2.5.1 How Can Social Entrepreneurs Fuel New Possibilities of Employment?

The Ashoka Fellows program offers YED practitioners a long-standing example of how to identify and to support social entrepreneurs, with the organization targeting those individuals who through their work have the potential to significantly impact their local and eventually global communities. Recently, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, Ashoka launched a new effort, “Future Forward: Innovations for Youth Employment in Africa.” The initiative, while based in Africa, offers an approach applicable across regions.

Future Forward takes Askoha’s social enterprise model to a new level, by looking not only at what Ashoka youth entrepreneurs need to succeed, but also how through both social enterprise and support to entrepreneurs the broader human development needs of youth can be addressed at scale.[1]

Based upon this analysis, Ashoka determined it needed to identify and to work with social entrepreneurs that could:

  • Grow an entrepreneurial “hub culture” to foster a change in mindset and support linking young people with role models
  • Facilitate financial flows by acting as a risk guarantor for youth micro-entrepreneurs that would mediate many of the structural barriers that prevent youth innovators from succeeding
  • Support intermediary organizations that match job seekers with demand, work across traditional divisions in the private and public sectors and create more collaboration among players
  • Improve systems by bringing programs together to bundle services and coordinate impact

Ashoka’s hypothesis is that by supporting social enterprises that embody these elements, they will be able to create an environment in which youth are in control of their own economic futures while fueling more economic opportunities.


[1] For more information on Askhoka’s theory of change as to youth’s development needs and the process used to develop the program strategy, see: Schwartz, Beverly & Khanna, Deepali. “Future Forward: Innovations for Youth Employment in Africa.”  Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization. Special Edition for the 2013 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.  September, 2013.